Julie Nihill stands in the same league as John Wood – she’s a lifer. Appearing in almost every single episode of Blue Heelers ever made, Julie cemented herself as a fan favourite, and an essential part of the Blue Heelers cast. She was once quoted as saying that her role on Blue Heelers was unique in that she was a kind of permanent guest actor, who got paid better than the extras.
Julie Nihill was in Melbourne, Victoria in 1957, and it was not until her thirties that she began seriously making an impact on television screens in Australian lounge rooms. The eighties saw Julie star in Sons and Daughters, Prisoner, The Young Doctors and Cowra Breakout. She also made a 1984 appearance in two episodes of A Country Practise, then Australia’s favourite show, where she played the girlfriend of a character played by Martin Sacks, who would become her close friend and cast mate on Blue Heelers some 10 years later.
With an already impressive list of television credits to her name, Julie continued to forge ahead in the nineties when she starred in Snowy River: The McGregor Saga and Mother and Son. She also branched into film with an appearance in Deadly with Bill Hunter and Frank Gallacher in 1991, which just added to the lengthy list of films she appeared in between 1983 and 1990. She also made an appearance alongside acting legend Ray Barrett in the 2001 film Dalkeith.
It was in late 1993 that she secured the role of Christine ‘Chris’ Riley, the owner of the local watering hole for the coppers of Mt Thomas. She became a much loved character and a confidante and friend to her policing friends. And she sure had her ups and downs in that pub. In season 1 none other than PJ asked her out, in season 2 she shared a brief dalliance with Adam, and she saw many a husband come and go through the doors of the famous Imperial Hotel.
But it was the long standing friendship she shared with Tom Croydon that won most of us over. They shared a mutual respect, and one had to wonder that if Tom had never married Nell, maybe he would’ve married Chris. But the chance and the spark never appeared.
Away from Blue Heelers, Julie is a mother to two daughters, a writer of children’s books, is passionate about wilderness issues and is a keen theatre goer. Julie also made the trip west in 2003 and 2005 to support Telethon and the Princess Margaret Hospital during Seven Perth’s annual Telethon weekend.
Julie is one of only two members of the cast who appeared in the very first episode of Blue Heelers and the very last.